Broken heart syndrome is not an urban legend. Nor is it just a literary figure to illustrate the physical and emotional pain that occurs after a breakup. It is a medical condition, with specific symptoms, and that occurs almost as often as it is heard or read that someone ended “with the spirit in pieces.” And although in most novels, those affected speak of “devastation and death,” the fatal cases are quite low.
It is also known as Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, apical bulge syndrome or stress cardiomyopathy. A temporary anomaly causes this medical condition in the left ventricle, which produces an irregular pumping of blood from that area. The rest of the main organ of the human body continues to function normally. Even, in some cases, they improve their performance to compensate for ‘the error’.
The specialists still do not completely agree on the specific conditions that generate the heart syndrome. However, there is unanimity regarding one thing: stress is present in almost all cases. Either psychic, emotional or physical.
Traumatic events (and some happy ones) generate an increase in catecholamine levels—one of the hormones responsible for the rapid responses of the organism to pressing situations. The key is that in a very high dose, it is toxic to the heart.
Population at risk
Heart syndrome can affect anyone, although most of those affected are women between 60 and 75 years of age. It has also been found related to smoking, as well as high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and diabetes.
The symptoms are very similar to those of myocardial infarction.
Therefore, although these are low risk situations, the emergency medical review is always necessary. In addition, it is impossible to discern ‘in real time’ the kind of problems one is going through without the corresponding exams.
Broken heart syndrome: an untreatable disease
There is no cure for a ‘broken heart’. The associated discomforts subside on their own after days or weeks. Of course, for this to happen, those affected must be at rest, away from any scenario that can generate anxiety and stress.
Some cardiologists prescribe beta blockers or similar medications, in order to inhibit the production of catecholamines. Once the picture is over, the chances of relapse are almost nil. Although this does not exempt those affected from maintaining a lifelong control to keep the heart under supervision.